Saturday, December 3, 2016

James Larson examines the Dubia



"What has been missed in almost all of the critiques of Amoris Laetitia is that it is indeed constituted as a direct attack on the concept of Charity and Sanctifying Grace."


Paul confronts Peter by Rubens


[Editor: Another view of the Dubia Incident, from our friend, Mr James Larson.]


What Really Is At Stake?
The Letter of Four Cardinals to Pope Francis Concerning Amoris Laetitia
by James Larson

On November 14, 2016, four Cardinals (Walter Branmuller, Raymond Burke, Carlo Caffara, and Joachim Meisner) released a letter which they sent to Pope Francis on September 19, along with five “Dubia” (“doubts” or “questions”) in reference to the teaching of the Pope’s Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, and requesting that these dubia be answered and clarified by the Pope himself.
The letter went unanswered, and thus these Cardinals decided to publish both the letter and Dubia, along with a Foreword, and also an Explanatory Note which further elaborated on the five dubia, to the general public. This composite of documents they titled Seeking Clarity. A Plea to Untie the Knots in “Amoris Laetitia”.
The four Cardinals introduce their analysis and explanation of the five dubiawith the following words:
“Let’s get to what is concretely at stake”.
It is my contention that, while the dubia and the analysis presented by the four Cardinals are indeed perceptive and true as far as they go, they do not at all reach to the true depths of “what is concretely at stake”.
Let us first look at these five dubia:
The first dubium deals directly with the issue of those married persons who have obtained a civil divorce and are now living in sin with a second partner. It asks “whether, following the affirmations of ‘Amoris Laetitia’ (nn. 300-305), it has now become possible to grant absolution in the Sacrament of Penance and thus to admit to Holy Communion a person who, while bound by a valid marital bond, lives together with a different person ‘more uxorio’ (in a marital way) without fulfilling the condition provided for by ‘Familiaris Consortio’, n. 84 and subsequently reaffirmed by ‘Reconciliatio et Paenitentia’ n. 34 and ‘Sacramentum Caritatis’ n. 29. Can the expression ‘in certain cases’ found in note 351 (n. 305) of the exhortation ‘Amoris Laetitia’ be applied to divorced persons who are in a new union and who continue to live ‘more uxorio’?
Dubia two, three, four, and five, on the other hand “are about fundamental issues regarding the moral life”
The second asks whether, after the teaching of Amoris Laetitia, there are still “absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts and that are binding without exceptions?”
The third asks whether, after Amoris Laetitia, it is still true “that a person who habitually lives in contradiction to a commandment of God’s law, as for instance the one that prohibits adultery, finds him or herself in an objective situation of grave habitual sin?”
The fourth asks whether, after Amoris Laetitia, the Church still needs to regard as valid the teaching “according to which ‘circumstances or intentions can never transform an act intrinsically evil by virtue of its object into an act ‘subjectively’ good or defensible as a choice”?
And the fifth dubium asks whether, after Amoris Laetitia, the Church’s teaching still “excludes a creative interpretation of the role of conscience and that emphasizes that conscience can never be authorized to legitimate exceptions to absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts by virtue of their object?”
All of these questions are being asked, of course, simply because Amoris Laetitia does indeed appear to contradict the perennial teachings of the Church (and of Holy Scripture) in regard to these issues. As the Explanatory Note of the four Cardinals puts it (very mildly, I think), “the interpretation of the document also implies different, contrasting approaches to the Christian way of life”.
But it is much more than a “way of life” that is at stake here. It is, rather, the entire structure of our understanding of Christian Revelation – of Who God is, and of who man is – which is being denied by Amoris Laetitia. And if this be true, then the entire brunt of the Cardinals’ letter to the Pope, which consists of requests for clarification in regard to these dubia, noble and courageous as it certainly is, is an exercise in futility. The fact is that, in the minds and hearts of such men as Jorge Bergoglio and Joseph Ratzinger, the entire philosophical and theological structure of the faith has necessarily undergone a radical alteration which necessitates this contrasting approach to the Christian way of life. In other words, there can be no clarification because Pope Francis fully believes he must do what he is doing. From his perspective, the dubia of these four Cardinals is equivalent to the death cries of theological dinosaurs destined for evolutionary extinction. They therefore must be ignored.

Read the whole article here.

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